Sex Roles

, Volume 33, Issue 3–4, pp 239–255 | Cite as

Toy selection for children: Personality and toy request influences

  • Donna Fisher-Thompson
  • Angela D. Sausa
  • Terri F. Wright


We conducted two studies to determine whether college students select toys that match children's personalities and toy requests. Students (primarily Caucasian) selected toys for one child described as masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral (Study 1), or for six children with masculine, feminine, or androgynous personalities (Study 2). Students' gender-typed behaviors and traits were assessed in Study 1; egalitarian child-rearing attitudes were assessed in Study 2. Most students chose toys that were consistent with the descriptions read. Many cross-gender toys were selected for children, especially girls, with cross-gender personalities. Students with toy requests selected more cross-gender and fewer gender-typed toys than did students without requests. Students' behaviors, traits, and attitudes about what toys are appropriate for boys and girls also influenced their decisions. The ramifications of these data with regard to adult socialization practices are discussed.


College Student Social Psychology Socialization Practice Adult Socialization Androgynous Personality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Antill, J. K. (1987). Parents' beliefs and values about sex roles, sex differences, and sexuality: Their sources and implications. In P. Shaver & C. Hendrick (Eds.),Sex and gender. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Berndt, T. J., & Heller, K. A. (1986). Gender stereotypes and social inferences: A developmental study.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 889–898.Google Scholar
  3. Biernat, M. (1991). Gender stereotypes and the relationship between masculinity and femininity: A developmental analysis.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 351–365.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradbard, M. R. (1985). Sex differences in adults' gifts and children's toy requests at Christmas.Psychological Reports, 56, 969–970.Google Scholar
  5. Caldera, Y. M., Huston, A. C. & O'Brien, M. (1989). Social interactions and play patterns of parents and toddlers with feminine, masculine, and neutral toys.Child Development, 60, 70–76.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Deaux, K., & Lewis, L. L. (1984). Structure of gender stereotypes: Interrelationships among components and gender label.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 991–1004.Google Scholar
  7. Downs, A. C. (1983). Letters of Santa Claus: Elementary school-age children's sex-typed toy preferences in a natural setting.Sex Roles, 9, 159–163.Google Scholar
  8. Eisenberg, N., Wolchick, S. A., Hernandez, R., & Pasternack, J. F. (1985). Parental socialization of young children's play: A short-term longitudinal study.Child Development, 56, 1506–1513.Google Scholar
  9. Fagot, B. I., & Hagan, R. (1991). Observation of parental reactions to sex-stereotyped behaviors: Age and sex effects.Child Development, 62 617–628.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Fagot, B. I., & Leinbach, M. D. (1989). The young child's gender schema: Environmental input, internal organization.Child Development, 60, 663–672.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Fisher-Thompson, D. (1990). Adult sex typing of children's toys.Sex Roles, 23, 291–303.Google Scholar
  12. Fisher-Thompson, D. (1993). Adult toy purchases for children: Factors affecting sex-typed toy selection.Journal of Applied Development Psychology, 14, 385–406.Google Scholar
  13. Guber, S. S., & Berry, J. (1993).Marketing to and through kids. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  14. Hansen, J. C., & Campbell, D. C. (1985).Manual for the Strong Interest Inventory (4th ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
  15. Katz, P. A., & Boswell, S. (1986). Flexibility and traditionality in children's gender roles.Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 112, 105–147.Google Scholar
  16. Krueger, J., & Rothbart, M. (1988). Use of categorical and individuating information in making inferences about personality.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55 187–195.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Langlois, J. H., & Downs, C. (1990). Mothers, fathers, and peers as socialization agents of sex-typed play behaviors in young children.Child Development, 51 1217–1247.Google Scholar
  18. Lever, J. (1978). Sex differences in the complexity of children's play and games.American Sociological Review, 43, 471–483.Google Scholar
  19. Lippa, R. (1991). Some psychometric characteristics of gender diagnosticity measures: Reliability, validity, consistency across domains, and relationship to the Big Five.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 1000–1011.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Lippa, R., & Connelly, S. (1990). Gender diagnosticity: A new Bayesian approach to gender-related individual differences.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1051–1065.Google Scholar
  21. Lobel, T. E., Bempechat, J., Gewirtz, J. C., Shoken-Topaz, T., and Bashe, E. (1993). The role of gender-related information and self-endorsements of traits in preadolescents' inferences and judgments.Child Development, 64, 1285–1294.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Martin, C. L. (1989). Children's use of gender-related information in making social judgments.Development Psychology, 25, 80–88.Google Scholar
  23. Martin, C. L. (1990). Attitudes and expectations about children with nontraditional and traditional gender roles.Sex Roles, 22, 151–165.Google Scholar
  24. Martin, C. L., & Little, J. K. (1990). The relation of gender understanding to children's sex-typed preferences and gender stereotypes.Child Development, 61, 1427–1439.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Martin, C. L., Wood, C. H., & Little, J. K. (1990). The development of gender stereotype components.Child Development, 61, 1891–1904.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller, C. L. (1987). Qualitative differences among gender-stereotyped toys: Implications for cognitive and social development in girls and boys,Sex Roles, 16, 473–487.Google Scholar
  27. O'Brien, M., & Huston, A. C. (1985). Development of sex-typed play behavior in toddlers.Developmental Psychology, 21, 866–871.Google Scholar
  28. O'Donnel, B., & Swim, T. J. (1993, March).Development of a parental gender-role stereotype measure. Presented at the Society for Research in Child Development meeting, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
  29. Richardson, J. G., & Simpson, C. H. (1982). Children, gender, and social structure: An analysis of the contents of letters to Santa Claus.Child Development, 53, 429–436.Google Scholar
  30. Robinson, C. C., & Morris, J. T. (1986). The gender-stereotyped nature of Christmas toys received by 36-, 48-, and 60-month-old children: A comparison between nonrequested vs. requested toys.Sex Roles, 15, 21–32.Google Scholar
  31. Robinson, C. C., Watson, J. A., & Morris, J. T. (1984). An examination of fundamental sex-role behavioral change: Mothers' toy purchasing behavior.Parenting Studies, 1, 61–66.Google Scholar
  32. Rothbart, M., & Part, B. (1986). On the confirmability and disconfirmability of trait concepts.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 131–142.Google Scholar
  33. Serbin, L. A., Powlishta, K. K., & Gulko, J. (1993). The development of sex typing in middle childhood.Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58(2, Serial No. 232).Google Scholar
  34. Spence, J. T., Helmreich, R. L., & Stapp, J. (1974). The personal attributes questionnaire: A measure of sex-role stereotypes and masculinity-femininity.JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology 4, 42, MS#617.Google Scholar
  35. Weinraub, M., Clemens, L. P., Sockloff, A., Ethridge, T., Gracely, E., & Myers, E. (1984). The development of sex role stereotypes in the third year: Relationships to gender labeling, gender identity, sex-typed toy preferences, and family characteristics.Child Development, 55, 1493–1503.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna Fisher-Thompson
    • 1
  • Angela D. Sausa
    • 1
  • Terri F. Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.Niagara UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations